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Literature / Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake

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Stanley Yelnats' Survival Guide to Camp Green Lake is a spinoff of Holes by Louis Sachar. As the title indicates, it is a guide to surviving the juvenile detention facility Camp Green Lake, presented in-character by the protagonist Stanley.


This book provides examples of:

  • Berserk Button: Don't touch anything in a camper's private box. Or Zigzag's TV.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Remember that even the seemingly harmless ones were arrested for good reason.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Stanley notably asks the reader to keep an eye out for Barf Bag, who ran away, and tell him it's safe to come home.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: The default answer for every question about an injury at Camp Green Lake is: "I slammed the tent door on it." This point is further emphasized when a quiz is held asking the reader how you got a black eye. Was it from a fight? Stepping on a shovel? Not bathing? The right answer is still "The tent door slammed in your face."
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
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    • Zigzag is obsessed with the broken TV in the wreck room, even though it never plays anything. E-Z tries "changing the channel" and Zigzag smashes his hand into the dial button so hard, the ridges on it cut his hand open.
    • E-Z himself got into Camp Green Lake for beating up a man and his dog because the dog pooped in front of his skateboard.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Armpit has a suggestion about the showers, that the four-minute shower should be changed so the water sprays for a minute, stops for one minute to allow them to apply soap, then restart for three minutes to finish. The suggestion is taken, but instead of three minutes of water, there are now only two, allowing the Warden to save a minute of water each.
    • Also how Camp Green Lake got reopened. Stanley published his book, officials read it, thought "What a great idea!", and reopened the camp and another camp with the original staff back in charge.
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    • X-Ray adapted too well to Camp Green Lake and essentially became its inmates' leader. Now that his sentence is over, he has to return to school and finds it difficult to readjust to the outside world.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: E-Z. Then he meets Zigzag.
  • Happy Ending Override: At the end of Holes, Camp Green Lake is closed, However, now the camp is open again, and the in-universe reason why the guide is being written is that people read Stanley's book and thought that Camp Green Lake was such a great idea, they should open it again.
  • Irony: After leaving Camp Green Lake and having access to a working TV again, Zigzag doesn't watch any shows. "There's nothing good on anymore."
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Magnet tries to escape by grabbing onto the supply truck and hitching a ride to freedom. When he turns up at dinner hours later, he merely asks for the ketchup and the others comply and never ask about it.
  • Maybe Ever After: Stanley is implied to have a girlfriend now.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Armpit's idea for the showers was intending to make them a minute longer. They ended becoming a minute shorter.
    • Barf Bag recovered from his snake bite, but ran away from the hospital because he thought they'd send him back to Camp Green Lake. He was unaware that his time in recovery counted as time for his prison sentence, and he had in fact completed it all. Now he's a fugitive.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: "Magnet told Armpit where to stick his next idea, and it wasn't in the suggestion box."
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Armpit is explained to have gotten his name not from being smelly, but because a scorpion once stung him in the armpit and he wouldn't stop complaining about it. (In the movie, it is because he's smelly.)
    • Another example is E-Z, who is named that because of his initials, but is anything but easygoing.
  • Not What It Looks Like: X-Ray was arrested for selling what everyone thought was cocaine and marijuana, but it turned out to be chopped up aspirin and parsley. However, selling aspirin without a pharmaceutical license was still illegal.
  • Playing with Fire: Zigzag got arrested because he was burning Styrofoam on his school's lawn, only for the flames to get out of control and burn down one of the classrooms.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Even though Mr. Sir went out of his way to make Stanley's life miserable after the incident with the Warden, he doesn't punish Twitch at all when he rudely interrupts him. Stanley figures this is probably because he knows Twitch is going to be suffering anyway once he starts digging his first hole.
  • Serious Business:
    • A "lifeline" is something connecting a camper to life back home. You don't ever cut someone's lifeline. Zigzag's is his TV guide and the broken TV in the wreck room. E-Z tries messing with the TV while Zigzag is "watching"; it ends badly for him.
    • By default, any of the personal items in a camper's box are immediately off-limits.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Twitch. On his very first day he decides to go poking through all the campers' boxes, blab to all the bunkmates, mouth off to the counselors, dig too fast and get himself tired, guzzle down all his water and run out when he needs it, get dirt in the camper's holes, and just as Stanley is escaping on the car, he hears Twitch say: "Hey, everyone check out this awesome lizard!"
  • Unwinnable by Design: The book has several quizzes, but most of them don't even have the correct answer. And the first quiz is very counter-intuitive. Your canteen has a leak. Do you A. Angrily smash your canteen. B. Quickly guzzle your water. C. Ask for a new canteen. D. Turn the canteen so the hole is on the top and drink from it that way. Answer: D is wrong; Dirt will get into your canteen and some water will eventually leak out. C is wrong; the counselor will just suggest you try D. The correct answer is B then A. The Warden knows you can't dig without water. You will be given a new canteen.
  • Where Are They Now: The book ends with a short presentation of all the boys in D-tent, why they were sent to Camp Green Lake to begin with, and what happened to them after they returned to their regular lives. The exception is Zero, whose section just says "For privacy reasons, no information is available" …though from reading Stanley's segment it can be inferred that Zero now attends Stanley's high school, receiving extra tutoring to make up for his lack of formal education but otherwise doing very well (especially at math).

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